Response to BBC Panorama “Private ADHD Clinics Exposed” programme

The following statement is our response to the BBC Panorama programme, "Private ADHD Clinics Exposed", aired on 15th May 2023

16th May 2023 about a 3 minute read

As a charity, Future Care Capital (FCC) seeks to address unmet patient needs by accelerating access to proven health and care solutions. Last night’s BBC Panorama programme shone a light on some of the difficulties faced when accessing diagnosis and treatment for ADHD. We believe that the scope and method of its investigations missed several key points.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health state that many of those who seek help face patchy, unavailable and inaccessible services. This was illustrated in the programme by Dr Mike Smith, consultant psychiatrist and Clinical Lead for Leeds NHS ADHD Service, who stated that the waiting list for an initial diagnostic assessment, is five years. Our own research has also identified lengthy waiting lists between assessment and treatment. FCC recognises that there is an urgent need to build capacity both in the NHS and private healthcare to meet patient needs and provide additional resources into existing clinical workstreams. This could be achieved with the implementation of clinically validated innovative digital mental health tools.

The use of online assessment also has its place in diagnosis.  Professor James Brown, of Psychiatry-UK, quoted two recent, peer-reviewed research papers, which have explored online ADHD assessments methodically.  He concluded that an experienced professional, taking care and time over the process, can be effective online or in person. It is the time and the rigor that matters, not the method of consultation. Evidence also suggests that patients with ADHD may find it easier to build a rapport with others online and prefer interacting in this way. Online questionnaire-based screening has been used for many years to triage and has proven it can help with the flow of patients as the number of those needing to be seen increases.

FCC identified a role for digital mental health tools to support those waiting for treatment, but there is an urgent need to improve the way in which these tools can be accessed. We believe that digital mental health tools provide an attractive option for improving service provision, cutting waiting lists and increasing capacity for a number of neurodivergent disorders.  We have also, seen increasing use of novel, clinically validated digital used to improve outcomes alongside and as an alternative to medication and believe there is scope for such tools to be implemented here.

The implementation of clinically validated digital mental health tools could result in an improvement in the quality and efficiency of care and patients’ access to it.  These could be complimentary to existing clinical treatment pathways, with the aim of both improving outcomes of both current treatments and increasing access to specialised therapies.

FCC continues to overcome barriers to the adoption of proven clinical treatments, facilitating engagement with commissioners and providers to accelerate access to solutions that improve patient experience and outcomes.